Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne
Like I said in the open, I have to see Gone Girl again to really figure out how I feel about it beyond that I think it’s better than the book. When you go though, if you haven’t yet, make sure you build in time afterwards, over coffee or a drink, to talk about it at length with the people/person you see it with. Because you’ll want to discuss and analyse and debate and bitch …or cheer.
I don’t need two viewings however to declare that Ben Affleck was perfect as Nick Dunne. And I never doubted it – click here, and here, and here, and here for previous posts on why I thought casting Ben was a good move. He’s the everyman who always wants more. He’s the ideal man on paper who always smells a little…shady.
Ben Affleck is 85% solid, trustworthy. But there’s the unmistakable 15% about that guy that will make you turn back one last time to make sure. It’s how I imagine his marriage and how Jennifer Garner keeps it together: she checks his work.
He plays it perfectly in Gone Girl. Or he’s channeling himself. Either way, Ben’s Nick Dunne is just the right degree of not-really-all-that-worried when his wife goes missing. In fact, he almost seems…bored. At the same time, at the moment where he tells Tyler Perry that he WILL go ahead with the television interview, that smug confidence blazing in his eyes – that’s Ben/Nick too. You want sincerity? I’ll act up all kinds of sincerity for you, motherf-cker, watch me. I had visions of him giving his Oscar acceptance speech.
Gwyneth Paltrow once gave an interview with this quote:
“I have been emotionally decimated a few times. I lost a cousin at 17, a good friend in an accident a year later, my grandfather when I was 26 – which was a real blow because we were very close – and then my father who was the centre of my world. Within that time frame I had a broken engagement and a drawn out and tortured relationship with a complete knucklehead.”
It was widely believed she was talking about Ben Affleck. Diane Sawyer asked her about it later on. She wouldn’t name names but later on, when discussing Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez’s broken engagement, and Diane’s assertion that she and Ben should have ended up together, she offered the following:
“I just think we have a very different sort of value system. Ben makes life tough for himself. He's got a lot of complication and you know, he really is a great guy, so I hope he, you know, sorts himself out.” (Source)
Ben Affleck gets in his own way. That was over 10 years ago. But when Ben is Nick Dunne, he gives you a picture of what that might look like. There’s a scene in the film when Nick/Ben – SPOILER!!!! – is hiding out at his sister’s and visited backdoor styles by his secret girlfriend. She’s young, she’s hot, she’s eager, so eager, and welcoming and willing, so willing, and she straddles him and she pulls her tits out and there they are, plump breasts right in his face and you can hear the faint whimper – the most effective sound effect, a whimper to illustrate the crumbling of his resolve. His resolve wasn’t a mountain. Nothing so formidable. Something that’s so easily weakened has to fall with a powerless whimper, non? Hearing a crash would have meant that this guy actually has some force. But only losers succumb with a whimper. And for no particular reason whatsoever, I was reminded of the scene in The Town, when Blake Lively straddles him too.
As Nick Dunne then, as an actor, Ben Affleck has never been better.
Here he is this weekend with Jennifer Garner, celebrating being #1 at the box office.